ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House of Delegates has lost a leader, a mentor, and a friend. Those are just a few of words used to describe House Speaker Michael Busch who died Sunday at the age of 72.
The last day of the legislative session ended in mourning, with condolences coming from those who worked alongside House Speaker Busch as well as from those across the aisle.
Delegate Tony Bridges (D-District 41) said, "Today is really supposed to be an exciting day, especially for me as a freshman legislator, but it really has turned into a sad day. We lost our coach, the Speaker of the House, Michael Busch."
Delegate Jay Jacobs (R-District 36) said, "Already a stressful day with the legislation that’s got to get worked through at the last second, on the last day, then to add this component is going to be just a strange day."
Delegate Wayne Hartman (R-District 38C) said, "It’s a sad day. I’m a freshman Republican here, so (it’s) my first experience working with him, and I have to say he was a fair guy; he gave me time. We necessarily didn’t agree, but he respected your opinion."
Busch also had a reputation for maintaining order within the State House.
"He loved the House of Delegates; he cared deeply about the decorum in there. You know, you had to have a tie on and a sport coat on. If you didn’t, he’d call you down real quick on it. He kept order," Jacobs said.
Busch joined the House of Delegates 32 years ago back in 1987. He served District 30 along with retired Democratic State Senator John Astle, who called Busch a colleague and friend for more than 30 years.
Astle said, "We formed team 30, and team 30 lasted up until I bailed out this last election. Mike was always the captain of the team."
"He loved sports, he liked to joke, he was a guy that even if you didn’t agree with his position you felt comfortable around him, and that’s important when you’re in that position," Jacobs said.
It was a position Speaker Busch held since 2003.
"He was the longest serving Speaker of the House, and his issues were I think he cared deeply about the whole State of Maryland," Jacobs said.
Now, Maryland honors the life and legacy of House Speaker Michael Busch as flags statewide fly at half staff.
"I think his legacy will definitely be one that’s him being a mentor to so many of us, especially in the House chambers," Hartman said.
"He was just no pretension," Astle said. "He was just a really good solid guy, that you could trust, and I’m going to miss him."